UndercoverQueer


Exhibit A
May 18, 2010, 5:48 am
Filed under: resources, Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

I thought I’d give you a break from my proselytizing and introduce you to a few of my favorite online queer resources:

Gay Edge Liberation

The Fence

Queer Sounds on KYRS

Nobody Passes

Queer Zine Archive Project

Homo A Go Go

Gay Shame: A Celebration of Resistance

Fence Sitter Films

Enjoy!

Advertisements


Big Queer Non-Gendered Wedding
May 12, 2010, 5:44 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

I pledge to love and respect you, to communicate with you in honesty, friendship and understanding, and to remain committed to our union in the face of all hardship.

Our wedding – or perhaps it could more appropriately be termed a commitment ceremony – was a wonderfully chaotic and amazingly cheap DIY party. Friends made our clothes, our desserts, arranged our flowers and took a few photos. Others decorated the space with ribbons and paper lanterns and set up chairs, then helped us move everything after the party was over. Another friend donated tea and punch and helped serve drinks, and yet another DJed our dance floor, mixing old jazz tunes with punk rock anthems.

We held our wedding in two parts – the first half was in the lobby of a community building where both my partner and I volunteer, and consisted of a short, vaguely spiritual ceremony that included our pit bull terriers and a few traditions, such as the bouquet and the garter toss, simply as a point of irony. We did not hand out programs or favors. Our attendants were not termed groomsmen or bridesmaids. The friends who stood at the front of the room with me included a male friend, my sister and three other female friends. My partner’s party was a mix of both male and female.

During the ceremony, we avoided use of any names except our given first names, and rather than promising to cherish and obey until death, we simply read our own short vows. No one introduced as Mr. and Mrs. We walked back down the aisle with the herd of friends who had stood at the front with us to the Eel’s “Beautiful Freak.” We ate vegan red velvet wedding cake and fresh fruit with family and our closest friends, danced for hours, and played with fortune fish – a classic novelty toy that supposedly predicts one’s romantic future.

The second half of the wedding was held at an acquaintance’s coffeehouse and music venue, where on a little stage hung with sparkling lights we performed a pagan laving ceremony and a hand fasting. Dipping our fingers in a saucer of (almond) milk and honey, we touched each other’s eyelids, symbolizing our mutual desire to begin a new outlook, to look past old hurts, to open our eyes to new possibilities. The priestess officiating at the ceremony then wound a cord, handmade the night before by me and two friends from colored skeins of yarn, around our clasped hands. To us, this represented our desire to work as equal partners, and our commitment to help and support each other as trusted friends.  And then, arms around the other’s waist, we hopped over a broom and a sword crossed in an “X.” The crowd of friends that surrounded us broke into a cheer, clapping and screeching, and we hugged and kissed wordlessly. We embarked on a new adventure with that jump, crossing a threshold into a new and baffling world of being considered a “married couple.”

We had proven to our loved ones that we wanted to be partners, but we had also shown that we were two individual people with two separate lives.  The rest of the evening was spent eating pomegranate and rosewater pistachio cupcakes, drinking champagne and sparkling cider and listening to local bands that had agreed to play the coffeehouse for our gathering. Even the bands that played reflected our divergent interests – indie rock to hardcore to nerdy hip-hop and ambient industrial.

There was no reception, no complicated wedding photos, no requisite signing of the license, no toasts. We mingled among friends, sometimes together, sometimes separately, and at the end of the night we were the ones who swept the floor and piled our dishes and leftover cupcakes into a friend’s car. Rather than making the evening solely about us, we made it about the places we held in a larger circle of friends .We took the opportunity to acknowledge that no one stands alone, that a community of shared beliefs was not only important in bringing us together, but in helping us recognize why we wanted to share at least a portion of our lives with each other.

At the end of the night, we walked from the coffeehouse to our hotel room, my partner in a top hat and carrying a walking stick, me in a floor length black gown and carrying an unfurled parasol. We brandished these wedding gifts at each other, pretending to spar. And then we exchanged them for a minute, reversing emblems of gender, finding them equally useful.



Non-Legal Union

I am married. I am a married lady. I am a lady married to a man, and although we dressed like neo-Victorian Goths and termed it a celebration rather than a ceremony, there’s no question in our relatives’ minds that our wedding united two people in traditional matrimony.

But it’s only as traditional as the red velvet cake and the ribbons and currant tea we served in vintage cups and saucers. For starters, we’re not legally married.

Marriage has long been argued to be a weapon of the patriarchy, a way of subjugating and enslaving females, a way of chaining them to the responsibility of child birth and rearing and absolute service to the ruler of the home. Marriage enforces an unbalanced power dynamic; it makes room for, even anticipates, exploitation. And while in the context of contemporary American culture people claim to get married for all sorts of reasons, many of them in fact marry for the financial advantages marriage will bring, or because they feel they should marry in order to have children, or to please family members. Individuals marry each other for love, too, but often find that their conception of what marriage is can’t sustain a loving relationship.

I recognize all this. I also recognize that currently in the United States, only five states acknowledge the rights of same-sex couples to marry. I feel that if financial advantages are offered to one type of couple, then the same advantages should be offered to any adult couple who wants to marry. I do not want to take advantage of an unjust and unfair system, especially when many of my friends who might desire to be married cannot simply because of their sexual orientation.

But beyond that, I believe that the state should in no way place any requirements or restrictions on whom, when and how I choose to marry. I do not need state authority to sanction my choice to share my life with another person. Neither do I feel I need the state to dissolve the ties of marriage should my partner and I choose to end it. Reliance on either state or church to define the boundaries of marriage and the relationships contained within it is a subscription to rigid gender roles. It is both limitation and restriction; a catalogue of what cannot be done but what is often accomplished anyway, to the detriment of lives and trust.

So it is for these reasons, and for many others, that my partner and I chose not to be bound in legal marriage. We never signed a license. We chose to share our lives with each other as equal partners and friends, and we decided to make that decision known to our community by hosting a wedding party and a pagan ceremony affirming our love for each other. We asked our friends and family to hold us accountable for our actions, to each other and to the people around us, to help us remember the difficulties we were facing in our life together.

Yes, we know the idea of a queer wedding is essentially antithetical. We hold no illusions about the difficulty of avoiding stereotypical, expected gender roles that others will place upon us. We know how we are perceived by outsiders. In spite of this, we think we made the right decision.  We’ve each chosen to commit to a person we love. How long this will last, neither of us can say. It could be until the day we die, or it could be until next year. Humans change and alter, and neither of us wants to keep our partner bound to a relationship that just isn’t working. If the day comes when we no longer wish to be together, then either of us will be free to go as we please. The enormous simplicity of our relationship and our commitment is part of its beauty. We define the boundaries.



Unicorn Panties
April 23, 2010, 2:47 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , ,

It is not on her lap where the horn rests

but deep in her moonpit

growing.

-Audre Lorde

On our wedding night, I gave my partner a pair of unicorn-printed, lace-trimmed pink panties.

They were not the first panties he’s owned, or even the first pair I’d given him. They were, however, the fulfillment of a dream he’d had since childhood: to own a pair of panties with unicorns on them.

My partner loves unicorns with a zeal that might only be rivaled by that of a shut-in crypto- zoologist, or possibly a seven-year-old connoisseur of Disney movies. Maybe it was the steady diet of fantasy film – stories about princesses and magic crystals and talking hawks and yes, beleaguered unicorns – he maintained for much of his young adulthood. As a male child, he wore underpants printed with cartoon superheroes or turtles with nunchukas, guys with square jaws and pronounced muscles and utility belts. But half the time, he tells me, he would rather have been wearing lacy, pink, little-girl underwear with floral or princess or pony (yes, sometimes horned pony) prints.

It wasn’t till he was grown that he realized he actually could wear unicorn panties if he wanted to. Unfortunately, they happen to be rather hard to find in adult sizes, unless we’re talking about a unicorn print on a banana hammock with the word “horny” emblazoned across the hindquarters. Those aren’t panties for adults who want to wear pretty unmentionables; they’re bachelor party gag gifts.

So that evening I unveiled his brand new, first ever unicorn panties, and we both wore lingerie.

While there’s nothing inherently queer about cross-dressing or even about the subversion and switching of stereotypical gendered behavior, role exchange – or just call it role obliteration – is a huge part of what can be termed “queer theory.” We’re not interested in just switching what a boy can do but a girl can’t – we’re saying everybody can do that, whenever they feel like it, whether boy or girl or neither or both. And while role subversion often involves an exchange of perceived power and control, we’re trying to disengage the notion that sex needs to involve an uneven balance of power in any way. Everyone should be in control, everyone should be fully involved, and everyone should be into it. And if not, no one should be making you feel guilty about it.

I love seeing my partner in panties, but my favorites will always be the unicorn panties. Whenever he decides to wear them, I hold that secret inside me for the day, and I can’t stop smiling to myself.

Next post: something about the incongruity of queer weddings



That’s Just Queer

Our bodies have been born into conflict with this social order. We need to deepen that conflict and make it spread. –  The Mary Nardini Gang

Wait, wait, wait. Let’s back up.

I realized somewhat belatedly that no one should begin a blog under the title “Undercover Queer” and neglect to define the term queer. I do find the term “queer” to be inclusive of my sexuality, but queerness is by no means indicative of sexuality alone.

Queerness is not synonymous with those who exist under the LGBT umbrella. Queerness denotes sexual preferences and practices, but at its core queerness is a revolt against normalcy. Queerness discards the preferential practices of a heterosexual, white-centered, patriarchal society. Queerness is what mainstream society deems as abnormal, undesirable, dangerous. Queerness is a threat to the status quo, because those who choose queer as a lifestyle both recognize the injustice and hypocrisy at that society’s core, and commit to fighting against it.

Queerness is both a place and position. It is a space that creates room for those our culture identifies as the alien, the immoral, the criminal, the deviant. It is an anti-society; it is an insurrectionary response. But it is also an alignment against totality, against the oppression of the overwhelming majority, against the crushing popular conception. It is a revolt against a culture of privilege that designates us as being unworthy of privilege, because we do not fit within the limits of “normalcy.”

Normalcy is everything that society has groomed you to be. It is the future already predetermined for you, without your consent.It is defined and structured by capitalism, by civilization, by the violence of empire. It is maintained by practices of violence and intimidation. Normalcy is every slur and every threat you have ever experienced. It is the ostracization and condemnation of the Christian right. It is the assumption that you should desire the same things as every other American, that you should assimilate into mainstream American lifestyle. It is the reasoning that gay individuals should possess the same rights as others because “they’re just like us.” It is the assumption that until we are “just like everyone else,” with children and a lifelong partner and minivans and steady jobs, that we do not deserve those rights. Normalcy is police brutality, it is repeated rape, it is the criminal convictions of four lesbians of color who defended themselves against the hate of a heterosexual white male. Normalcy is the practice of domination, the subjugation of everything that does not neatly fall under its totality.

Normalcy does violence to both our bodies and minds; it is emotional and cultural terrorism. Anyone who has experienced the anguish of not being able to fulfill the rigid expectations of loved ones, the pain of being considered a lesser person and of less worth and importance, of being ignored and demonized simply because one is “other,” understands that normalcy rejects bodies and minds that do not fit within the social code. Normalcy mutilates, poisons and erases us, in order to “help” and “allow” us to fit within the social norm, to ascribe to the ideals of whiteness, of prosperity, of “male” and “female,” of monogamy and family-oriented life. And if we cannot achieve these ideals, we are taught to hate who we are, to blame and abuse our bodies and our inner selves.

Queerness, then, cannot share a discourse with other forms of social analysis. It is not class or race or sex theory; it is not a continuation or an offshoot of any political theory. There is no space in existing narratives for us. We do not want, even if we were granted, a place in a model that is designed for heterosexuals. The history of queers in our civilization is the history of criminals, and even now queers that refuse to assimilate into normalcy are often considered immoral and criminal – the seedy, diseased underbelly of society.

Yet we can claim our past and redefine the stories that society tells of us. We may have been disenfranchised and marginalized; we may still be criminals. But as criminals and undesirables, we have – slowly and painfully, but we have – created a space outside the domination of normalcy. And it is that space  that will threaten and topple the constructions of normalcy. Queerness does not seek half-hearted concessions and politically correct patter; it seeks to destroy the systems of domination that maintain the world we live in. We want to overthrow and eradicate the world that our culture believes in, the only world that normalcy posits as possible. In this way, our culture is right to be afraid of us, but everyone forgets that this conflict was begun centuries ago. We are simply here to inherit it.

Queer historian Susan Stryker asserts that the state acts to“regulate bodies, in ways both great and small, by enmeshing them within norms and expectations that determine what kinds of lives are deemed livable or useful and by shutting down the space of possibility and imaginative transformation where peoples’ lives begin to exceed and escape the state’s use for them.”

By imagining sex and sexual practice outside the patriarchal norm, as separate and distinct from constructions of hetero-normative identity, we are creating that dangerous imaginative space. We are subverting the realm of sexuality and by acting upon our illicit desires, rejecting the narrative of heterosexuality and privilege.  Queerness opens the door to true identification with oneself, to healing the scars of forced assimilation, to inverting and redefining society’s label of miscreant, lowlife, unmentionable.



Undercover Queer

You dare to gag me

With this limpid pink ribbon

You forced me to wear?

A friend penned this haiku recently, and I immediately loved it. In fourteen succinct words, she summed up the problem of being a female in the world we live in. While being conditioned to fulfill the stereotype of what a woman should be, we’re also strangled and slowly being murdered by the rigid confines of that role.

But it’s not just about females. Males are forced to wear a false self too; they’re conditioned and coerced to fulfill roles that aren’t realistic or indicative of their true feelings and interests.

This is the inaugural entry for a blog that’s intended to explore not only that conundrum, but many others, too. This is a blog about relationships, about choosing and being chosen, about finding things deep inside that you weren’t aware of, about daring to move outside the boundaries of what’s considered socially acceptable.

I am a polysexual female. I rejected the status quo, the assumption of hetero-normativity long ago, but that doesn’t mean it’s no longer being imposed upon my person.

When I dated girls, others assumed that I was a lesbian. I never took offense, but that’s not the case. I identify as queer, because I feel it is a term that of it’s political and social connotations. I’m attracted to females, but neither did I intend to limit my choices for lovers to the female continuum.

When I met my current partner, several acquaintances from my queer community began to make comments that I didn’t know what I wanted, or that perhaps I was making a mistake. The same comments were being echoed on the other side, the side that assumed that I had been confused all along, that I couldn’t make up my mind which I liked better – males or females or anyone neither or in between.

My partner is a bisexual male. I had dated relatively straight men before, but never an openly bisexual man. It wasn’t a prerequisite that my next male partner be queer too, although I had decided I wasn’t dating straight men anymore. Actually I had considered avoiding men altogether.

The fact that my partner and I began a non-traditional relationship – that looks and seems fairly hetero-normative on the outside – and that it worked, and that it’s still working for over a year, is testament to our commitment to moving outside the binary scale of gender relations. At some point in both our lives, we decided to reject all sets of expectations and any assumptions that others knew and interpreted our sexuality better than we could. We created our own rules.

Many other male and female bisexuals form successful relationships, and like any relationship, they are all based on different beliefs, views and expectations. I can’t speak for these, just as I don’t presume to speak for all poly females, or for the queer community at large. I’m just going to tell you about how my relationship plays out in daily life, about how our orientations and politics influence our desire and experiences and the subtle, quiet communication that forms the background to what we call “our life.”

We may look like the average hetero anarchist punk couple to you – and we probably smell like one, too – but like you, like anyone, there’s more to us than meets the eye.By accomplishing a basic human action – choosing to act upon our desire – we play a part in the subversion of gender binary culture from the inside. We’re queer, and we’re undercover, and none of it is quite what anyone expected.